I’ve been thinking about resilience. Mostly because recently, I had a few days where mine had gone a little AWOL.

My resilience levels affect a lot of what is going on in my life. When I am feeling super hardy, I think clearly, I am logical and common sense prevails. When faced with a situation, I pause, reflect on different options, try harder to consider others’ points of view and make calculated and deliberate choices. I make less impulsive decisions; I regret less; I feel more buoyant and sure of myself, and confident in how I decide to solve what lies ahead.

When resilience slips, I act without considering all options or potential consequences. And I stop doing a lot of the self-care that usually I do without too much thought. I sleep less; I eat less well. I become less risk-averse, realising – often too late – that the way I acted was not the smartest way, or I do  something that I may regret later. Sometimes I catch myself before it happens, sometimes I don’t.

And it spirals. Because then the worry and concern about the way I reacted starts to play on my mind. And I stop doing what is best for me. I read things into the situation that aren’t there. I second guess myself. Spiral, spiral, spiral…

In diabetes, that reduced resilience plays out in the same ways, just with a diabetes-specific bent. I become a little reckless in the way I bolus – leaving it too late, making guesstimates that I hope won’t cause too many problems, of just plain forget. I ignore alerts and alarms, or silence them by making a quick, but not necessarily smart move. I don’t stop and think and try to understand the situation – I just act. Or I don’t act…I do nothing.

And, of course, in the way of diabetes, that spirals too. Rollercoaster glucose levels prevail as I can do nothing more than chase the impulsive decisions I’ve been making. I stop thinking about the overall picture, instead dealing with the immediate situation at hand.

All of this because I don’t have the resilience stores – the energy, the clarity, the right state of mind – to help guide me through the necessary process, but I need or want to do something … just for the sake of doing something.

I have a wise friend who has provided me counsel during these periods – including this most recent one. As I was jumping in from every which way trying to resolve a situation, she listened, and then gently suggested I take a breath, take a pause and take a step back. ‘Let it marinate. Don’t do anything right now. Just wait a bit.’

This is always great advice. We have all responded angrily to something, wishing that we had taken a few breaths, a few moments and a walk around the block before lashing out; or sent that email that perhaps could have done with the benefit of time, and a bit of editing.

…Or bolused for that high glucose number even though there’s a shedload of insulin on board, and all it needs is some time to work.

The best thing to do in all those cases would have been to stop. Just stop. And wait.

High resilience makes me work smarter, play smarter, sleep smarter and diabetes smarter. The trick is not only maintaining those levels to a point where I make smart choices, but to stop for a moment and try to identify when things start to slip, recognising triggers…and then work out how to remove those triggers for good.

Stop. Wait. And tea.

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